Evaluate Your Relationship, Not Your Partner

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At risk of embarrassing myself (and a friend of mine), I’m going to share with you a conversation   I had in 2008 when I was debating whether or not I should get married. It contained some priceless advice that I want to share with you.

Now, just because I am a dating coach doesn’t mean I don’t have a million of my own issues. I read self-help books, I take seminars, I’ve gone to therapists. You name it, I’ve done it, all in the name of gaining self-knowledge and pursuing happiness. In other words, I try to practice what I preach. Don’t complain life’s not working for you; figure out how you can tackle it more effectively.

Now, just because I am a dating coach doesn’t mean I don’t have a million of my own issues.

Anyway, since I am a notorious worrier/navel-gazer/overanalyzer, I had some deep concerns about my future with my then-girlfriend. She and I had been dating for a year, and, since she was 38, I really had to come to some conclusions fast. I could think of no better confidant than my close friend, Scott Greenberg.

Scott is not only one of my first friends in Los Angeles from 1996 and a nationally recognized motivational speaker, but he’s also been married for ten years. (He met his wife at Johnny Depp’s Viper Room, the same way most nice Jewish boys end up finding love).

Anyway, while I was pouring out my heart to Scott over tofu scramble at Swingers, he sat back and watched me with a bemused look on his face. Needless to say, this pissed me off. I asked him what he was smirking at.

“You,” he said, “have absolutely no problems whatsoever. You’re creating them yourself.”

This took me aback. “Having serious questions and doubts about the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with isn’t considered a problem by you?”

He smirked again. “You don’t have any doubts about your girlfriend. You only have doubts about yourself.”

He was right. If there was one thing I knew, it was that my girlfriend was the single best person I’d ever met. My question was whether that was enough. Shouldn’t she be more ambitious, more well-read, and make more money? Shouldn’t she be a few years younger? Shouldn’t we agree on concepts of God and religion?

More smirking. “I’m going to give you one piece of advice that I used myself. You ready?”

“I’m ready.”

Don’t evaluate the woman. Evaluate the relationship. You can always find someone younger, cuter, smarter, richer… But that doesn’t mean you’ll have a great partnership with her. So even if you could say that your partner is a “7” or “8”, if your RELATIONSHIP together is a “10”, that’s really what matters most.”

Don’t evaluate the woman. Evaluate the relationship.

I took this in for a second. Scott saw me processing. “So?” he said. “How’s your relationship?”

“10,” I replied, without a moment’s hesitation.

“You know what to do,” he smiled.

That advice, from a very wise and happily married man, changed my life. It is no disrespect to my wife to say that I wasn’t positive if we were meant to be. All relationships are a choice. The easier choices come when you’re intoxicated by passion and you’re not thinking clearly. Sometimes those relationships work out; more often, they don’t. I thought I was thinking very clearly while I was courting my wife. Turns out I was wrong.

There was never anything wrong with her; there was only me, looking for reasons to run away from the best relationship I had ever known.

Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t think I knew it all – and more glad that I have friends who know more than I do…

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Comments:

  1. 41
    Heather

    I’m not sure men and women can’t be friends. There is always this weird tension, though. I happen to get along very well with the opposite sex, I just can’t get turned on by them very easily. I have a few close male friends, let me give you a breakdown of these relationships (names have been changed to protect the innocent):

    ‘Bernie’ is a guy I talk a lot of shop with (we work in similar design professions) and commiserate about the perpetual single status with. He’s a good looking guy and I get along with him, but I don’t find myself attracted to him. He’s a bit of a man-whore and that’s a red flag to me, but I do enjoy his company. He’s never made a move on me, and at one of his parties he commented to me that I was the only woman in attendance who he hadn’t ‘dated’ at some point (I think it’s safe to assume that means ‘didn’t have sex with’.)

    ‘Pete’ is a guy I met a while back. I slept with him the first night I met him, mostly because I was so sexually frustrated and I was very drunk. I didn’t particularly care for him as relationship material, he doesn’t have his shit together, so a relationship would be out of the question. I had an emotional conversation with him however and we bonded over having similar taste and similar family ‘issues’. He remains my friend to this day, I regard him like a little brother (perverse as that sounds). We never had sex again and I don’t want that to happen anymore.

    My ‘best friend’, we’ll call him ‘Henry’, is a guy I dated for a few months, who loves me dearly and is always there for me, but I could never form an attraction to him so I ended the courtship. We only had sex one time. He’s a great guy in every sense of the word, and if I could force myself somehow to be attracted to him it might have been perfect. But I couldn’t. He has a new girlfriend now, but we’re still close.

    ‘Jake’ is an old college friend I looked up recently. Back in college I had a HUGE crush on him, but he was married and I was an emotional wreck, so, as you can imagine, that was not going to turn out pretty. Nothing ever happened between us other than kissing a few times (which he initiated, not me.) I’ve gone out to dinner with him a few times in the past few months since I contacted him. He’s an amazing person who lives a very unconventional life. We have great conversations. The last time we hung out he confessed to me that he was in love with me back in college. I fear he still is in love with me and that is what is motivating his friendliness (and, yes, he’s still married). I wouldn’t be able to resurrect that crush I had on him even if, for some unknown reason, I would want to. So, I don’t know how that is going to turn out – I’ll just have to be careful I guess. 15 years after I was madly in love with him – the guy confesses he was in love with me? It just ain’t right.

    And, last but not least, the man who ruined me, ‘Charles’. I met him last year, and though he claims to be my friend, I cannot believe him. He’s more of an IM chat buddy, and he hasn’t even been there in that capacity lately. He did (very nervously) kiss me once, and that only added to the confusion. I can’t be his friend because I’m totally in love with him. Why? I have no clue. But it became impossible for me to become attracted to anyone else since I met him. I guess, in some ways, it keeps me out of trouble, but it’s made dating impossible for me. I compare everyone to him, and I look for clones of him on dating websites, and it just isn’t going to happen. It has really turned my thinking about love inside out and I’m not sure I’m better for it.

    So, those are my ‘platonic’ male compadres. The lot of them, with the exception of the last one, are totally ‘there’ for me any hour of the day. And what about that last one – why does he claim to be my friend when he could have just walked away from me and my attraction to him? Yes, male-female friendships are not easy to figure out, that’s for sure.

  2. 42
    Sayanta

    I don’t know Heather- you still seem to be getting more action than I am! lol

    I would run, not walk, from the married dude though- and stay as far away as possible. He’s a total scumbag.

  3. 44
    Sayanta

    43-

    LOL- that was brutal….anyway. As for me, notice I said I would want a romance to develop from friendship.

  4. 45
    Heather

    Haha – that’s a funny article. I’m afraid I do occasionally complain about being hopelessly single to all of my male friends – but then again I complain about it to everyone. If they want to listen I’m not gonna stop them 😉

    The only thing I ‘use’ them for is conversation and companionship when I go out sometimes. Since I’m not actually dating anyone or getting ‘hot sex’ I’m not torturing any of them unknowingly with that. I tend to approach the males in my life with the absolute conviction that there is no sexual interest on their part. Everybody tells me this couldn’t be further from the truth, but I don’t buy it. I’m fairly attractive but men keep a distance from me. I’m cursed I tell you!

  5. 46
    JerseyGirl

    Good advice.

  6. 47
    Getting An Ex Back

    Pretty Interesting publish. Couldnt be written any better. Reading this publish reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this publish to him. Fairly sure he will have a great study. Thanks for sharing!

  7. 48
    That East Asian Man

    Dear Evan.   After reading all of your blog posts from December 2005 to December 2011, I’ve concluded that this one is my favorite.   It answers the question that bedevils the dating scene here in Southern California, where thousands of attractive men and women are available in each category of age.
    From a woman’s viewpoint, that question is commonly expressed as “Why should I settle for my current boyfriend, when I can find another man who is taller, wealthier, and better educated?”   From a man’s viewpoint, the question is commonly expressed as “Why should I settle for my current girlfriend, when I can find another woman who is younger and more beautiful?”
    As you so wisely point out, that question –   in whatever form — is  irrelevant for anyone seeking marriage or a long-term relationship.   The more appropriate question to ask is set forth within your wonderful blog post.   Thank you for steering us in the right direction.

  8. 49
    Lisa Ambers

    Thank you for sharing your ideas through this blog. It is well written and alot of information included. I’ve learn new stuff here with regards to relationships and more. Keep it up!

  9. 50
    Paula

    what if you don’t know how to rate the relationship? What is the criteria?

  10. 51
    susan

    so it really isn’t me, it’s you? without a doubt i have been ”passed over” as a result of my FDH and my RDL (recently departed love) because of them both agonising over their own stuff, not to do with me.
    They both missed a great opportunity and state so.
      

  11. 52
    Danielle

    A lot of men didn’t get Scott’s Memo but need to!   lol

  12. 53
    Mark

    I married a 10 person within a 10 relationship. That was 31 years ago. The relationship is now a 12. Make that a 15.

  13. 54
    Carol

    Reading all these comments is why this single lady is putting on her bikini and heading to the beach to kayak!

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